The Graduate School of
Asian and African
Area Studies (ASAFAS) Kyoto University Tembea (Staff Only)
The 77th KUASS
Human dimensions of wildlife and the future of wildlife dependent livelihoods in the 21st century
15 June 2018 (Fri) 13:00-17:00Venue:
Middle-sized Meeting Room, Inamori Memorial Foundation Building (3rd floor), Kyoto University
Human relationships with wildlife have existed since human kind (Alves and Albuquerque, 2018) and have shaped different value orientations towards wildlife depending on the social and cultural constructs, moral values, material realities and political dynamics characteristic of a given time, location and social group (Manfredo, 2008; Jacobs, 2009; Alves and Barboza, 2018). In tropical regions, despite changing socio-ecological environments, increased market access, globalization, transition to cash economies, forest degradation, erosion of cultural heritages and nutritional transitions, wildmeat remains part of the menu (Alves and van Vliet, 2018). The use of wildlife serves different purposes depending on the specificities of each context, but usually include an important role as a source of food, a strategy to reduce costs in crop production, a source of income, a source of medicine, as a means to strengthen social bonds, or as part of a wider system of interconnected socio-physical relationships and identity (Nasi et al, 2008; van Vliet et al., 2015; Alves and van Vliet, 2018; Fisher et al., 2013a; El Bizri et al., 2015; Ichikawa et al., 2016).
Over the past decades, with the alarming scientific evidences of wildlife declines (Benitez-Lopez, 2017; Dirzo et al., 2014; Ripple et al., 2016; van Velden et al., 2018), the protectionist orientation has gained more strength (Cooney et al., 2017). Stricter law enforcement, expansion of protected area network, development of alternative sources of income away from wildlife-based products, the promotion of non-consumptive uses of wildlife, are all part of the international agenda to downsize consumption of wildmeat in tropical regions at local, national and international scales (Government of the UK, 2013; USAID, 2017; Commission Européenne, 2015).
On the other hand, with the recent human rights outcries to protect indigenous people’s food sovereignty (Hoover et al., 2017; Searles, 2016), quality of the diets (Samson and Pretty, 2006; Johnson and Bodirsky, 2008, Bordeleau et al., 2016; van Vliet et al., 2017), cultural identities (Fisher et al., 2013a; Fisher et al., 2013b), and self-determination (Schweitzer et al., 2000) there is a timid but growing recognition of the failure of strict protectionist measures towards wildlife consumption, including militarized law enforcement (Wellsmith 2011; Bennett, 2015; Challender and McMillan, 2014; Cooney et al, 2017) and efforts to downsize hunting and consumption based on alternative livelihoods (Wicander & Coad, 2015; Alves and van Vliet, 2018). Recent recommendations by the scientific community and endorsed by the Convention on Biological Diversity now suggest the need for more comprehensive and context specific responses to prevent wildlife declines, taking into consideration cultural and social realities (van Vliet et al., 2015; Alves and van Vliet, 2018) and combing law enforcement, demand reduction, community sustainable wildlife management initiatives (Challender and McMillan, 2014; Wilkie et al., 2016) and sustainable trade (van Vliet et al., 2017).
Here we argue that any approach to manage wildmeat use in tropical regions might result inadequate, un-effective or un-acceptable without a mutualistic understanding of wildlife value orientations by all wildlife users. We use a humans’ dimension approach to characterize human relationships with wildmeat in tropical forest areas, show how the two opposed ends of the wildlife value orientations continuum are resulting in stigmas, which represent clear bottlenecks for sustainability in tropical regions. Then, we present a few case studies to illustrate how a lack of understanding of value orientations can result in a cultural backlash and discuss a few success stories where pluralistic value orientations were taken into account and therefore allowed to avoid conflict over conservation. Finally, we call for a better understanding of the cultural constructions that shape perceptions, motivations and behavior among the different beneficiaries of wildlife, taking into account local/international, rural/urban, traditional/western specificities.
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